Finn Church Aid opens Kyiv office, focusing on restarting education for children in northern Ukraine
Schools have suffered enormous damage in the ongoing war in Ukraine. Finn Church Aid wants to be among the first organisations to support the return of children to school.
FINN CHURCH AID is entering the next phase of its emergency assistance programme in Ukraine; this includes support for the education sector that has suffered from the war. Work will begin in the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, approximately 150 kilometres northeast of Kyiv. To make this possible, Finn Church Aid is opening an office in the Ukrainian capital.
Jouni Hemberg, Executive Director of Finn Church Aid, was recently on a field visit to Ukraine. He emphasises that Finn Church Aid wants to support the return of Ukrainian children to school.
“The summer holidays are coming soon; the schools have to be repaired now so that children returning to their home districts can get back to their lessons in the autumn,” he explains. “There are currently few education sector players north of Kyiv, so that’s why we’re heading there with our work.”
Russian troops withdrew from the Kyiv area in March/April. After battles, bombings and occupation, the schools in this area are in poor condition. There are unexploded munitions and mines in the area.
“Finn Church Aid’s team visited the area and assessed the condition of the schools there after the occupation and how they are damaged,” Hemberg continues. “Most of the schools have suffered somehow, and most of the ones that are still standing have been vandalised in many ways; even doors and windows have been stolen.”
Schools are important to children living amid war
The bombings have destroyed and damaged schools all over Ukraine. The Chernihiv area has seen missile strikes as recently as May.
“We believe that targeting schools with hostilities is inhumane and prohibited outright by humanitarian law,” says Hemberg emphatically. “Attacking schools means that the rules of war have not been followed, and it is also clear that such acts have a negative impact on the civilian population and the prospects of children and youth.”
Education in humanitarian crises is a central expertise of Finn Church Aid. The organisation leads education work in eleven countries on three continents.
Education in emergencies can be viewed as a life-saving activity. Schools bring routines and a sense of normality to the daily lives of children living amid war or as refugees. Schools can also disseminate vital information, for example, about unexploded mines and munitions; in Ukraine there are large numbers of these, due to the current and past conflicts.
Psychosocial support is also an important part of educational work in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Finn Church Aid has long experience in this area in all of its programme countries, such as providing essential training to teachers on psychosocial support. Ukraine has many children who will need multi-layered support due to the long-term psychological effects of war, and this will form a key part of Finn Church Aid’s work in the region.
Finn Church Aid continues relief distributions in Ukraine
In addition to working in support of the education sector, Finn Church Aid will continue to provide internally displaced people with emergency aid, together with Hungarian Interchurch Aid, its local partner organisation.
Part of this work has involved the delivery of 662,000 kilograms of aid including food and drink, nappies and other hygiene products. Furthermore, refugee shelters opened in places like schools, nurseries and church premises have been supported with washing machines and kitchen refrigeration appliances.
The relief work began in March on the Hungarian-Ukrainian border and in Lviv. Just recently, aid lorries belonging to Finn Church Aid and Hungarian Interchurch Aid have reached areas in eastern Ukraine as well.
For more information:
Executive Director, Mr. Jouni Hemberg, jouni.hemberg[a]kirkonulkomaanapu.fi, +358 50 325 9579
Communications Manager, Mr. Erik Nyström, erik.nystrom[a]kirkonulkomaanapu.fi, +358 5038 07250,
Photo: A wrecked school pictured in the city of Chernihiv in March. Lehtikuva / AFP